ALISTAIR GIBSON: Mellow autumnal wines to reflect the change of season

Yalumba Organic Viognier 2016, South Australia
Yalumba Organic Viognier 2016, South Australia

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It was John Keats who wrote his evocative poem on the change of seasons, To Autumn.

It seems the summer has left us and we’ve slipped gently into the new season.

Pinot noir...it’s fickle, difficult to grow and in many ways the holy grail for many winemakers

So maybe it’s time to put the barbecue and the garden furniture away and think about log fires and slow-cooked casseroles?

That’s okay with me.

I love the change of seasons and everything they bring with them.

And so it is with wine as well.

It’s time to think about wines that match that change.

Here are a few mellow wines to go with those autumn mists.

Starting with some fizz, quite rightly there has been much written about English sparkling wine over the past few years.

But there is a whole world of quality fizz out there to be tasted as well.

Tasmania is the source of most of Australia’s top quality sparkling wine and a regular in my fridge is Jansz Premium Cuvée NV, Tasmania, (Waitrose £13.49 on offer from £16.99 until October 3).

Jansz is one of the leading producers of sparkling wine in Tasmania and this is made from chardonnay and pinot noir using the traditional champagne method.

Whereas most English fizz is all about that lovely apple-like acidity, this is much more mellow with a pale gold colour, a fine persistent mousse and notes of citrus, strawberry and nougat on the nose followed by a nicelyweighted palate with some creaminess and well-balanced acidity.

This is great value and an excellent alternative to champagne.

Viognier may not be the obvious autumn grape, but for me it can have more weight and texture compared to sauvignon blanc or pinot grigio and it’s a welcome change.

Produced by Australia’s oldest family owned winery, Yalumba Organic Viognier 2016, South Australia (Waitrose £7.49 on offer from £9.99 until October 3) is unoaked and has melon, apricot, and some spice on the nose, followed by a bright, medium-bodied palate with a citrus and more apricot on the finish.

Try this with a mild curry or a Moroccan dish with couscous.

Pinot noir is perhaps the ultimate autumn grape. It’s fickle, difficult to grow and in many ways the holy grail for many winemakers.

Outside of Burgundy it seems particularly well suited to some parts of New Zealand, and if you needed proof of its potential there then look no further than Escarpment Te Rehua Pinot Noir 2015, Martinborough (Majestic £34 but £30.60 if part of a mixed six, Hermitage Cellars £28). Not cheap, I appreciate. But this is one of the finest Kiwi pinot noirs I’ve ever tasted.

From a single vineyard – Te Rehua – in South Island’s Martinborough region, this has a gorgeously perfumed bouquet of plums, spice and dried herbs before an almost sensual palate with more black fruits, fine tannins and a silky, complex finish.

This is a winemaking tour-de-force to cellar for a few years or to match now with some autumn game.

n Alistair Gibson is proprietor of Hermitage Cellars, Emsworth. Call (01243) 431002 or e-mail alistair@hermitagecellars.co.uk.